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The Witch of Birmingham

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Birmingham was vastly different from Galway . With that singular thought, Bianca made her way off the over-packed train, and onto the equally crowded platform, using some effort to stay afloat with the mass of strangers that she was crammed in between. She hissed out a curse when she almost tripped over the heeled shoes of a blond woman. Shooting out a hurried apology to the woman, Bianca was once again sucked into the departing crowd. Soon enough the crowd thinned, and she was able to separate herself from the lot of them; she took a moment to gather herself, not used to being in large crowds. 

Once she took stock of both herself, and her belongings she looked around the platform, watching as others boarded the train; some hurrying off to wherever they’re meant to be. Her gloved hands fisted over her suitcase, chest twinging at the sight of families reuniting, or bidding farewell. Her mind conjuring up the image of her own family, before she willed it away: there was no time thinking of that . No, instead she should focus on finding her way to her newly purchased flat, a thought that felt odd to her--of having her own space, but she welcomed the feeling, even though it frightened her. Be brave, Bianca .

Taking a deep breath, she held it and closed her eyes. No more ‘Theo’. once I open my eyes, I’ll only be ‘Bianca’. Exhaling, a smile bloomed across her face, and her eyes snapped opened a second later. With her head held high, Bianca strutted through the doors of the train station, and out into cobbled streets of Birmingham.

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The moment her neighbors started screaming at each other, was a clear indication that she needed to get ready, and start the day. Bianca groaned into her scrunched-up pillow, rolling onto her side and sitting up, haphazardly tossing her quilted covers to the side, as her bare feet touched the worn hardwood floor. Who needs an alarm clock, when you have the Hughes? 

Lord, bless them! Sighing in resignation, Bianca sluggishly rose from her creaky mattress, and began her morning routine. She was never a morning person, and moving to Birmingham sure as hell didn’t change that. 

Setting her copper kettle to boil, she finished pinning up her blonde hair, all-the-while glaring heatedly at the wall across from her. Throughout the month she’s been here, the couple have made it a habit to argue from the early hours of the morning, to the very moment Mr. Hughes arrives home from either work, or the local pub. The only time she gets a hint of peace, is when she is out of her bloody flat, and those few precious hours before Mr. Hughes gets home.

Thankfully, she had managed to concoct something during her second week here, that could instantly knock her out when she needed to rest. 

Though, perhaps I won’t need that now? Bianca had made it her personal mission to either befriend, or get to know her neighbors to some extent. What she had learned during her first week, was that Mr. Baker hated visitors, but he had liked the apple crumble she had brought him; the Millers, were an elderly couple who were very fond of her pies.

Finally, there were the Hughes: Mr. Hughes was a short, and stocky man with a ruddy face, and even ruddier hair. Mrs. Hughes was a thin, bird-like woman with short brown hair, and a tired face. They had been pleasant, completely different from the screaming entities she had conjured within her mind in those first few days. 

She eventually found out that the Hughes were having trouble in the marriage bed--or rather, Mr. Hughes was, ahem, having trouble downstairs, to the increasing frustration of Mrs. Hughes. So, naturally the couple began taking their frustration out on each other--thankfully, their fights never escalated to anything physical.  

With that train of thought, Bianca made her way to her small pantry and briskly opened it. Finding what she was looking for, she snatched it within her grasp, and closed the pantry door with her hip. The kettle let out a startling hiss, almost causing her to drop the small vial, but she quickly righted herself and stuffed the glass solution into her bra.

After finishing her morning tea and toast, Bianca slid into her coat and donned the matching hat. Mr. Hughes had left just as she had finished fixing her tea, so she was secure in knowing that she wouldn’t be spotted by him. Gathering the rest of her things, she exited her flat and locked the door, before she ambled to her neighbor’s door.

Rapping thrice upon the scuffed wood, she waited until a haggard looking Abigail Hughes opened the door. Her friendly grin was met with confused eyes, before they turned sheepish.

“I, I’m sorry Bianca, were we too--?” The woman’s apology was cut short, when Bianca reached into her blouse, and plucked the safe-kept vial from the insides of her bra. Holding it out for the woman, who took it after a few short beats, Bianca instructed her to place a drop of the liquid into either her husbands food, or drink.

“W-what--” Once again, the woman was cut off. 

“No more than a drop, eh? And first time’s free charge--the next will be three pounds 50.” With that, she turned on her heel and strode out her apartment building.

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Her earlier cheeriness lasted until she stepped through the door of her workplace, and punched in her time card, where she happened to catch sight of her desk, riddled with piles of meeting notes--notes that she would have to spend all day typing up, and filing away. Shoulders slumping, she withheld a sigh and replaced her card in it’s designated slot, then made the short trek to her, now, cluttered desk. She had just placed her purse down, when her boss suddenly opened his office door with a bang, startling her before abruptly barking her name.

“Ms. Kovac!” upon not immediately seeing her, the man called for her again, before said woman pushed the door back a smidgen more, revealing herself. Mr. Thompson jumped, though was quick to try and play it off as a mere shuffling of his feet. 

“Yes, Mr. Thompson?” she asked, forced smile stretching across her face. She could already feel a headache coming on, and it was barely the start of her work day. The man produced an even larger pile of documents for her, carelessly thrusting them into her limp arms, causing her to scramble in order to not drop them--which was possibly his intent, if the unsatisfied frown was any indication. 

After briskly informing her that these documents, along with the ones on her desk, will need to be finished today, he closed his office door and then headed for the door.

“Oh, and keep tabs on my messages, yeah?” with that, he exited the building, leaving her slack-jawed and wide-eyed. 

Oh, damn that man! Snapping her mouth shut, she huffily slammed the papers on her desk, before closing her eyes and took in a lungful of air. Counting to ten, Bianca told herself to calm down--she needed this job, that she should bare a stiff-upper-lip and march through the day. It was only six hours.  

Reaching ten she exhaled, and opened her eyes. Sitting down at her desk, she readied her type-writer and officially began her day.

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The suddenly door chimed around lunch-time, though Bianca was far too focused on her work to notice it. She had made a surprising amount of progress with the mountain of documents, and with her decision to work through lunch she was confident that she wouldn’t be forced to work over-time. The only sound after that, was the fast rhythmic tap, tap, tap of her type-writer, eyes solely focused on her task and mouth absent-mindedly chewing half of her sandwich, the other half hanging from her sealed lips, waiting it’s turn to be consumed.

A throat clearing broke her out of her trance, she idly glanced up, and nearly had a stroke right then and there when she registered who stood in front of her desk; along with the sudden influx of mortification at the picture she no doubt made. 

Thomas Fucking Shelby!

She may not have been in Birmingham long, but she sure as fuck knew who the Shelbys were--especially the one who happened to be looming over her desk currently. Face burning, she reached for her sandwich and bit through it, setting the rest down on the napkin she had wrapped it in, and desperately sought to reclaim some-sort of dignity. Swallowing, she tried mustering a smile, though it fell short and morphed into a grimace. 

“How can I help you, Mr. Shelby?” She’s heard quite a bit about the Shelbys--especially about Thomas Shelby in particular. She had once heard that his icy stare alone, could melt a man’s face off--though the man who said as much was drunk at the time, so she didn't have much faith in his word. In fact, he didn’t appear that frightening, if anything he appeared amused--most likely due to having caught her off guard. He gestured a bit to his mouth, glancing to her own before she caught on and hastily wiped the mustard away with a quick swipe of her tongue, face once again heating in embarrassment. 

Dear Lord, please strike me down. 

“Is Jimmy ‘round?” At the mention of her boss, the frustration from this morning reared its ugly head, but she was quick to stamp it out--she didn’t want to come across as defensive or hostile towards Mr. Shelby, especially when she realized he was really alone, two Blinders were standing guard outside the door. Shaking her head, she informed him that he had left in the early morning; no, he hadn’t told her where he had gone, nor when he would be back. 

Seeing Mr. Shelby grow frustrated at her employer’s absence, if the sharp quiet curse was any indication, Bianca was anxious to placate the man. 

“Was there anything you were expecting, or wanting to discuss with Mr. Thompson?” she asked pleasantly, a sudden thrill racing down her spine when he looked at her, a dark brow raising at her inquiry. 

“I was expecting a payment two days ago, and ‘ave yet to receive it.” He reached into his pocket, and slid a cigarette from it’s cartridge before lighting it. Bianca had frozen in place as dread started slinking it’s way into her stomach, becoming the likes of a boulder. 

 “I’d graciously given him an extra day to get the money, and still, I haven’t received the three-hundred quid he owes.” a pause, accompanied by a ghost of a smirk. “Now with interest, of course.”

She cursed. She couldn’t help it, finally realizing what this was, and why her boss had made sure she would be present during this time--no doubt having learned that she would rather work through lunch than work a second of over-time--and why he wasn’t.. That kreten ! (1)

“Now, I know--” Bianca cut him off by standing abruptly, the two Blinders jerked to attention, but she paid them no mind. Oh, she was furious with her boss--why, if he was here this moment, she’d strangle kozí kurva (2), God forgive her, but she would! 

Making her way to her employer’s office, a litany of slovak-shelta curses following her wake, she began to fumble with one of her hair pins. She jerked the door opened--the bastard didn’t even lock it --and marched towards his desk, her heels clicking against the hardwood floor.

Reaching for the tasteless painting that hung behind his office chair, she yanked it from the wall and carelessly tossed it aside--if the kretén had any problems with her treatment of his things, she’d tell him to shove ‘em up his arse. He’d had thought himself so clever; thinking that he was the only one in the world with a safe hidden behind a painting, that they’d neither find him, nor his money--forcing her to deal with the gangsters, the complete ass. Well, he won’t be laughing for long when he finds his money’s gone!

 Spotting the safe, she ended up letting out a haughty snort; he hadn’t even bothered to purchase a decent one, she’d have no problem cracking this one--hell, a babe could crack this pathetic excuse of a safe.  

“What’re you doin’?” Glancing over her shoulder, she found Mr. Shelby standing in the doorway, smoking all care-free like, and watching her with a sort of detached amusement. She finally managed to pluck a pin from her hair, then gave the man a one-armed shrug. 

“Quitting.” she said simply. She heard something suspiciously like a laugh, but when she glanced back at him, he was as grim as the reaper. Crossing herself at both the thought, and for what she’s about to do, Bianca set to work. 

She was severely disappointed, with barely any thought, she heard the tell-tale click and voila: the safe was opened and the money inside was ripe for the taking. 

“Three-hundred quid , you said?” she asked absentmindedly, already counting out the notes.

“Plus interest.”

“Ah, right.” having counted out the correct amount, including the required interest, she placed the stack of pounds on the desk so he could do so himself. While he began his own counting, she turned back towards the safe and took the rest. Grasping the left over pounds, she turned and began walking back towards her own desk, all-the-while stuffing half the notes down her bra, and folding the rest with her purse being their future home.

Feeling eyes one her, she found Mr. Shelby once again watching her. Giving him her best smile, she began gathering her things and idly asked him, “You won’t mind too much, if such an outcome happens, that I tell the authorities that the Blinders took all the money?” 

“I doubt you’d have to talk to any copper.” he informed her, and after a second of contemplation, she nodded in acquiescence, tossing her forgotten lunch away. Her employer--ah, former employer--would be too much of a coward to confront the Blinders, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to contact any officers.

“Well, then I bid you a pleasant day, Mr. Shelby.” She went to gather her coat and hat, and punched her time card, before tossing it in the bin near-by.

“You as well, Ms…?” She twisted to face him, and smiled once again.

“Bianca. Bianca Kovac.” He tilted his head in acknowledgement, and she took that as her que to leave. Well, time to find a new job.

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Translations:

  • 1.) Asshole
  • 2.) Goat fucker